Phenol Prices, markets & analysis
For those looking to keep abreast of the global Phenol market, our independent, unbiased pricing information, news and market analysis is an invaluable resource.
Whether you buy or sell Phenol or related products, you need to know about the prices and the factors driving the prices in the global Phenol market as they happen. Our network of price reporters throughout Asia, Europe and the US provide key local insights. We collate this intelligence into daily and weekly price reports, ensuring you have the up-to-date information you need at all times.
Phenol Overview Transcript
The global phenol market is structurally short and will remain so until new capacities starts to come on stream in Asia over the next few years.
Demand for phenol derivatives is set to remain steady in Europe, Asia and the US. This is because demand in downstream markets such as bisphenol A, caprolactam, adipic acid and phenolic resins is likely to remain subdued in the near term.
Global economic uncertainty and slow growth in developed markets will play their parts to aid stability. There is some concern over the supply of cumene, an upstream chemical, which may itself become short, tightening supply.
The other challenges facing the market for phenol are sharp fluctuations in the benzene price which can be hard to pass on to consumers in downstream markets where prices are negotiated rather than set on a formula basis.
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Phenol news and market information products from ICIS
We offer the following regional Phenol analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Phenol marketplace.
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Phenol: Market overview
European phenol market remains in the doldrums and is not expected to recover in the first quarter of 2014. Demand is extremely quiet with key end-product bisphenol A (BPA) seeing structural issues. Contract prices are high, directly tracking the benzene price, and this has had a further dampening effect on demand.
The US phenol market is not expected to improve during the first quarter of 2014 with weak domestic and export demand continuing to be strong headwinds.
Potential declines in phenol production, which is already averaging 65-70%, would further stress the market as well as supply of US co-product acetone, which is tight on healthy demand and is expected to prompt increased imports of that product.
Buyers also warn that US producers will continue to see “red ink” on phenol until there is some rationalisation of capacity in the US market to help correct overly long conditions.
Asian phenol prices are expected to be driven by the opposing factors of strong feedstock benzene and propylene costs versus slumping Chinese demand in the first quarter. Chinese phenol imports in 2014 are expected to plunge by 44% from 2013 as the country’s rapid capacity expansion boosts its self-sufficiency.
While derivative demand is expected to weaken in the lead up to the Lunar New Year holiday starting 31 January, a busy plant turnaround season starting in February and the consequent tightening in regional supply are likely to provide a floor for prices.
Updated to mid-Jan 2014
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Phenol occurs as colourless to yellow crystals, with a characteristic carbolic odour which turns pink on exposure to light and air. It is strongly hydroscopic, liquefying in moist air. It is moderately dissolvable in water, but very soluble in ether, methyl and ethyl alcohol, carbon tetrachloride, acetic acid, glycerol, benzene and chlorinated hydrocarbons. The solution in water is a weak acid.
The main chemical intermediates and derivatives of phenol are bisphenol-A (BPA) used to make polycarbonate (PC) and epoxy resins, phenolic resins, caprolactam, alkylphenols, aniline and adipic acid. The largest market for phenol is BPA followed by phenolic resins.
Cumene-based technology is the dominant process to produce phenol. Here, benzene and propylene are reacted to form cumene, which is oxidised to the hydroperoxide, followed by acid-catalysed cleavage to yield phenol and acetone.